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Youth Tobacco Prevention

RDRN participation by year


Youth Tobacco Prevention Programs

Youth tobacco prevention programs supported by RAI companies, like Right Decisions Right Now and We Card, operating in conjunction with other programs with the same goal, have played an important role in the decline in youth tobacco use during the past 25 years.

Right Decisions Right Now: Be Tobacco Free (RDRN)

Started in 1991, RDRN is a free and easily accessed youth tobacco prevention program for use by middle- school educators, parents and community groups. Funded by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the evidence-based program was independently developed and tested, and seeks to equip youth with skills they need to handle peer pressure and to make healthy lifestyle decisions, including the decision not to use tobacco products.

RDRN materials are designed for easy use: in middle schools; at home through materials that parents and grandparents can download from the RDRN website; through scout programs, church, youth and sports organizations; and in other forums where trusted adults can provide youth with the information and skills they need to learn.

In 2016, RDRN celebrated its 25th anniversary with record levels of employee and website engagement.

  • Awareness Building: In late 2015, the RDRN website and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest presence were redesigned to improve accessibility, ease of use and update the look and feel. The website seamlessly connects to RDRN’s social media footprint, providing an integrated platform for users to discover and download the youth tobacco prevention resources.
    • In addition to regular digital media promotion, in the fall of 2016 we launched an expanded awareness campaign to drive traffic to the RDRN website. The campaign generated more than 1.5 million impressions, website traffic increased by 425 percent and downloads increased by 246 percent over the same period in 2015.
    • In February 2017, our companies’ youth tobacco prevention efforts, including the Right Decisions Right Now program, were featured on a TV program — “Health and Family’s Responsibility Matters with Dr. Nancy Snyderman” — which was broadcast on Fox Business News.
  • Employee Engagement: The RDRN Program’s goal is to increase the number of our companies’ employees who participate in the RDRN employee participation program year-over-year. In 2016, the number of employee presenters reached an all-time high of 493, which was 10 percent short of our goal. However, we changed our policy in the fourth quarter to make the number of non-profits for which each employee can earn grants unlimited. Removing the two-organization per employee limit helped drive up fourth quarter participation by 42 percent over the same period in 2015. In 2016, 279 youth-oriented organizations (an 11.6 percent increase) received $275,000 in grants from R.J. Reynolds for participating in the program.


    2014 2015 2016
    Number of Employees      
    Number of Presentations


  • Focus on Partnerships: Another focus for 2016 was the expansion of the RDRN relationship with the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 55 poison control centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Each year, America’s poison control centers manage thousands of cases of acute exposure to tobacco and liquid nicotine products. RDRN is working with AAPCC to help communicate the proper handling of products containing nicotine in an effort to reduce exposure. In 2016, reported cases of nicotine exposure were down 23 percent over 2015.

  • Educator Engagement: Educators are an important partner in distributing the RDRN program. During the expanded fall 2016 campaign, 26,000 educators were targeted with an email message to promote awareness of RDRN. The campaign generated a 13.8 percent open rate. Additionally, RAI engaged over 1,000 educators at state and regional conferences and participated in the N.C. Association of School Resource Officers (SRO), where 400 SROs were introduced to RDRN and offered grants for school presentations. RDRN was also presented by YMCA educators in 20 after-school programs in North Carolina through a partnership with the YMCA of Northwest N.C.

We Card

In 1995, R.J. Reynolds was a founding supporter of the We Card program, readily recognized by its yellow-and-red retail sign stating “Under 18, No Tobacco: We Card.” The program offers retailers materials and training to help them stop the sale of tobacco products to minors.

Today, 22 years later, the We Card program is widely accepted across the country as the premier tobacco sales training and education program for retailers, and R.J. Reynolds continues to be a strong supporter of that program. To date: 

  • We Card has held more than 2,100 classroom training sessions, in all 50 states in the U.S.;

  • More than 420,000 store owners, managers and frontline employees have been trained by We Card;

  • 44 state coalitions have been assembled to support state-level training and education;

  • 237 regional, state and local trade associations support the We Card program;

  • More than 1.17 million We Card kits have been distributed to retailers nationwide; and

  • State government agencies in 25 states have supported the We Card program and, at various times over the years, governors and state attorneys general have either endorsed or expressed support for the We Card program. Governors in 34 states issued Proclamations or Letters of Support for We Card Awareness Month in 2016.

As impressive as these numbers may be, the most important achievement of We Card and other programs and efforts like it is that FDA audits show that the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors has been reduced dramatically. The FDA has completed more than 463,000 retail compliance checks involving minors since 2011. In 2016, 88 percent of retailers successfully confirmed the purchasers’ age during retail compliance checks.